Bolivia halts US anti-drug efforts

US rejects claims that officials were involved in spying and backing the opposition.

    Bolivian police, working with US agents, have increaes cocaine seizure under Morales [EPA]

    He also directly accused DEA officials of disrupting government activities during the unrest in five of the country's nine departments in September by "funding civic leaders with the aim of sabotaging airports in eastern Bolivia ... to  prevent visits from officials".

    Ambassador expelled

    Relations with the United States have been tense since La Paz expelled the US ambassador in September after accusing him of encouraging divisions by offering support opposition figures.

    September's crisis developed after the Bolivian president announced plans to hold a referendum on a new constitution. 

    The United States, which last month added Bolivia to a list of nations that had "failed demonstrably" to meet their obligations in tackling drug trafficking, dismissed the claims against the DEA.

    "We reject accusations that the DEA or any other US government agency has supported the opposition or conspired against the Bolivian government," the US embassy in La Paz cited a state department official as saying.

    "These accusations are false and absurd.

    "If co-operation with the United States is suspended, more drugs will be produced in Bolivia," it added. "The resulting effects of corruption, violence and tragedy will mainly hurt Bolivia itself."

    Cocaine producer

    Bolivia is the world's third-largest cocaine producer after Colombia and Peru.

    Washington says the amount of land being used to cultivate coca in Bolivia has increased significantly, but the United Nations estimates it rose only five per cent last year.

    Morales was the leader of the Bolivian coca-growers union before becoming the country's first indigenous president. The coca plant, from which cocaine is derived, has many uses in traditional Andean culture.

    Bolivian police, working with DEA agents, have dramatically increased their cocaine seizures under Morales.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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